The decision by General Motors to prune the Oldsmobile brand was the right thing to do. But it is wrong to prolong the anguish by phasing it out. GM must develop a plan for the end, one that has a firm schedule and a hard-and-fast deadline. And GM needs to do it soon.
There is just too much at stake for too many people to let the end of Oldsmobile drag.
There are 2,800 dealers with tens of thousands of loyal employees - not to mention employees of GM - who need to get on with their lives and businesses. And don't forget the suppliers and customers who have supported the brand.
All of these loyal stakeholders in the Oldsmobile brand know the end is coming, and to forestall the obvious is unfair and disrespectful. Most have been patient, but delaying the inevitable will damage relationships that need to outlive Oldsmobile.
The orphan syndrome has begun. Special incentives will only make it painfully clear that the products are damaged goods - and that's too bad, now that Oldsmobile has a decent lineup. But sometimes good products aren't enough, particularly if they are in overcrowded segments and carry a brand name that has been starved half to death.
Any marketing money spent now will amount to artificial life support. With GM's share of the U.S. light-vehicle market hovering near 28 percent, those funds ought to be invested in brands with a longer life expectancy.
Rick Wagoner's cost-cutting moves make sense. But they need to be executed more quickly. This is not the time to play Generous Motors by trying to extend a spent life. It is more practical and merciful to end it quickly.
Face it, the Oldsmobile brand is dead. It's time to bury it.